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I’ve just been at a talk by Robert Cialdini and Steve Martin about the science of persuasion.

One of the things suggested was that persuasion needs to be given more power and maybe even a role in organisations. If it’s a proven fact that we can get more people to change their behaviour with a bit of gentle encouragement then why don’t we invest more into it? If hotels can get more people to re-use their towels by a few well worded interventions, why not do more of it elsewhere? After all, there was the Government “nudge” unit and having a persuasion champion in organisations is an interesting idea.

In discussion afterwards we surfaced a reason why we were uncomfortable with this. It’s because it’s just too easy. There is no real re-invention of the service and there is no genuine attempt to really improve the customer experience. It’s a unilateral thing and even in the examples given we’d seen, a multi-lateral approach worked better. If we did this just for the organisation, we’d be doing it just to improve our rate of return as a provider. If we change the way the form is written just to get a higher take-up that is great but the benefit accrues unilaterally. That is interesting for a while but it misses the real opportunity.

If instead, we could use the skills we have to improve the experience overall, wouldn’t that be the thing that was really interesting?We should involve people more and work together to an entirely better answer. Our challenge should be to co-create better solutions – both internally with the organisations people and externally with its customers.

So I’m not for the Chief Persuasion Officer but I am for the Chief Customer Officer and the Chief People Officer – as champions to do just this.

Hilary – 18th September 2014